Lent - A Time of Reflection
Dear Mary MacKillop Community
Thank you for your support over the past two weeks.
There was a time when butter could not be eaten during Lent. Of course, if you were in southern Europe you had a ready supply of olive oil to cook with or to season bread with. In northern Europe though, where olive trees did not grow and there was a healthy dairy industry, representation had to be made to the Pope that eventually meant butter was deemed an essential requirement. In the same way, in the 1960s Catholics could again in good faith eat meat on Fridays, and at the same time the functions of the Mass changed to reflect the renewing Church. The priest spoke in English, faced the congregation. Before long, lay people, men and women, were taking part in the liturgy where only twenty years earlier it was a place of sanctuary and mystery.
I mention these changes because there are of course some constants in the Church. Even though the way the Mass is said has changed, the Mass itself has not – it remains the pinnacle of our liturgical expression. And, even though what we may give up for Lent has changed, it remains a time of renewal, of recognition of self, and of supporting all around us. St John Chrysostom says it best, “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” He wrote that in the 4th century – and it is just as relevant today.
In communicating this ideal to the Junior and Senior College, I have asked them to reflect on themselves. I have asked them to give up unkind words, selfishness and apathy. I have asked Senior College students to give up feeling negative about their abilities, appearance or friendship groups. This morning, I asked the Junior College to give up saying “I can’t”. Through little acts like this we can bring ourselves a greater community.